Sint Maarten's capital is shopper's paradise. Every day, hordes flock to the tax- and duty-free stores on Front, Back and Old Street in search of cheap electronics, jewels, and designer clothes. Few places in the Caribbean offer the variety and quality of the items displayed in Philipsburg's windows at such a good price. However, this also means that the local flavor has been lost to development and tourism, and some parts of the city (and the island -- especially on the Dutch side) feel like they could be anywhere. Other parts of the city, however, have managed to maintain a Caribbean feel, and it's not that hard to stumble upon a pleasant street lined with palm trees and colorful colonial buildings.
Great shopping is arguably the main draw here, but Philipsburg also boasts good restaurants, a vibrant nightlife, and a couple of cultural attractions (namely, the Heritage Museum and the Zoo). The central location makes it a convenient base to explore the rest of the island. On top of that, the gorgeous, long beach has fine sand and pristine waters.
Philipsburg is a pretty compact and narrow city, so most shops, bars and restaurants will be within walking distance of the hotels. However, travelers might want to stay on the southern end of the city, which offers easy access to Front Street's wonderful shopping and the pretty beach. While the western end is probably more convenient for those who want to experience the hopping nightlife of Simpson Bay or Maho, the east is somewhat quieter.
Mid-December - mid-April
June - Nov
Netherlands Antilles florin (NAf) and US Dollars
110 V, 60 Hz (U.S. compatible)
Taxi drivers expect 10%; bellmen $1 per bag